|Granny Bea with Kaden and Jacob|
Some people said it wouldn't last. But it has. It's been rocky at times ... I like to say that most of the 35 years have been happy ones.
I could write volumes on how wonderful she is, how conscientious and caring, how she's supported me -- no, how she's carried me -- and how aware of the world around her she is. Our kids are as solid as they are mostly because of her.
She's one of the best people persons I know; she can find the best in people, and she seemingly knows when someone isn't genuine.
The volumes will have to wait. I'm going to focus on one aspect today: Granny Bea.
She always wanted to be a grandmother. But in 2002, the prospects didn't look good. Our kids weren't set to become parents, but the bigger problem was she didn't feel good. There were recurring episodes in which her food wouldn't stay down.
Because we're stubborn, she didn't go to the doctor for a long time, and I didn't insist. We kept thinking it was food poisoning, a bad salad, a spoiled piece of meat, etc. She was anemic and gaunt, and hurting.
Finally, she went to a doctor, and he did a blood test. It didn't look good; he sent her on to have a colonscopy.
Dr. Balu Chandra -- who would play an important role later -- gave me the news: Colon cancer. He had the pictures and my response was, "How do you know it's colon cancer?"
"I do this every day," he answered, somewhat offended. What I'd meant to say was, can you show me on the pictures how you know that it's cancer?
The large black spot is how. That was the tumor.
Bea had been drowsy; now she was awake enough for him to tell her. She stopped breathing, and Dr. Chandra had to tell her, "Just relax and breathe. It'll be OK."
Surgery in October 2002 was a tough day. The surgeon came out to tell us it was Stage III, some lymph nodes were affected, her colon was shortened and restructured, and chemo was a must. He sounded alarmed, at least that was our impression.
|Josie and Granny Bea|
Four years later, with Rachel's wedding approaching, more bad news. One day the cancer doctor -- almost always upbeat -- sounded panicked. A scan showed cancerous cells in lymph nodes by Bea's spine.
After a series of doctor consultations -- from Fort Worth to M.D. Anderson in Houston -- two cancer doctors and a surgeon decided that surgery would be too risky. Chemo and pinpointed radiation were her only hope.
But first the wedding. Then the treatment began. Again the worry; again the chemo/radiation was an excruciating process.
It worked like a charm. The cancer around the spine disappeared.
One more problem since.The scar tissue from the original cancer surgery built up, blocked the colon wall to the point that a couple of years ago, Bea had another colon resection surgery. Recovery then, too, was a process, but the good news was that cancer wasn't a part of it.
Since then, she's been relatively well, and the grandkids have come -- Josie first 4 1/2 years ago (Bea was in the delivery room). Then Jacob (he turns 3 Wednesday) and Kaden (last March 1).
She relishes the role. They call her "Granny," just as our kids called her mother "Granny." Those three grandchildren cherish her; she cherishes them -- and she spoils them. Just like she's spoiled her kids ... and she's spoiled me.
She's one of the toughest people I know, and you're going to say that being married to me for 35 years is the toughest assignment one could face. And you'd be right.
I've made a lot of mistakes, and made some good decisions, too. Marrying Miss Bea -- the girl from Jamestown, La. -- is the best decision I ever made. Happy anniversary, my love.